They arrive before the breaking of dawn and file in quietly the women shuffling passed the guards, holding kids close and keeping their gaze averted. They parade through the throne room and passed Alex, no one dares to look up at him as they march, silently the good knight watches the women, waiting to see Maggie and when he does he stands, the guards halt the line and he walks down the steps to the Foretold, kneeling before her. “Divine sent, Lady Foretold. I am Alexander. Your humble servant, you must forgive the lateness of the kingdom, for we have just learned of your presence.” Maggie does not respond, Alex rises and offers her his arm, she accepts it and lets him pull her from the line as the rest of the women are marched off to the dungeon followed by the men and finally Throne. The bandit and the knight make eye contact and Alex hangs his head, the bandit looks away, understanding his friends pain at the betrayal before him. Alex escort Maggie away from the throne room heading toward the chapel where she will be kept safe, but they do not get far.
“Alexander, where are you going?” The knight freezes, Maggie glances up at him for a moment.
“The Lady Foretold is tired, Your Grace. I am taking her to the chapel to rest.” The Keeper’s footsteps approaches, Maggie bit her bottom lip.
“I won’t keep her long, Alex.”
“I am sorry, Your Grace.” Maggie speaks up, turning, “I did not realize you would be awake. Forgive the good knight, as I only wish to sleep. The unexpected journey has made me very tired.”
“Ah, yes. Forgive that, Lady Foretold. I simply had to bring you here for your own safety. Throne is a horrible rogue, I would never be able to forgive myself if he had harmed you.” Maggie nodded mutely the Keeper smiles at her.
“If you will excuse us, Your Grace.” Alex cuts in, attempting to walk away with Maggie.
“Not so fast, dear Alexander.” The knight sighs and stops “I have not formally met the Lady Foretold.”
“Your Grace, I am Magnolia Brown. You may call me Maggie.” The Keeper chuckles.
“Maggie, how informal.” The way he says her name makes Maggie’s skin crawl. “I am Jacob Thorn, the Keeper King of Braydora.”
“Yes, unfortunately our great royal family was lost some time ago and now I sit on the throne.”
“I see. It has been a pleasure meeting you Your Grace, but now may my knight escort me to a place where I may rest?”
“Of course, Of course, please rest. I will send a servant for you in the morning.”
“With all due respect, Your Grace, I will dine with Alexander at a time when I feel I need to wake and eat.” And with that Maggie steps forward, pulling Alex with her, the Keeper King watches them go for a moment before turning and walking to his own set of rooms.
The stone halls are silent but every time Maggie attempts to speak Alex shushes her, finally he lets her into the chapel and closes the door, sitting in the pews where the monks of the inner chambers praying and undisturbed by Alex and the Foretold. Alex leads Maggie along the back wall to a small side room with a simple bed and dresser in it and closes the door gently. “I’m sorry, Miss Magnolia.”
“I knew Keeper was planning something but I couldn’t send word to Throne, you are in danger within this palace.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Keeper needs a way to cement his power, and I don’t know how but he’ll do something that will do just that. You are in danger and I don’t think I can get you out of here.”
“What’s going on Alex?” Maggie asks, panic in her voice. “How am I in danger?”
“Don’t turn your back on the Keeper, please Miss Magnolia.”
“I… I won’t…” Alex gives her a firm nod.
“The brothers will keep you safe when I am gone, please try to rest, I will introduce you to them later.”
“Oh, ok.” Alex turns and leaves, Maggie stands in the small room for a moment, attempting to listen to her surroundings through the thick door and walls but she can hear nothing. With a shrug she lays back on the bed and closes her eyes letting sleep sink in.
Alex slips from the chapel and makes his way back to his room, waiting for him is a messenger from the Keeper King, he accepts the letter and after reading it makes his way to the Keeper’s study. The door opens for him and he walks in silently, the Keeper stands with his back to Alex near a small fire. “Alexander, come here.” Alexander approaches and stands beside the king, watching the small flickering flame. “The people do not like me, they do not fear me.”
“Should a king be feared, Your Grace?” Alex asks passively.
“They do not respect me, they would sooner have my head then bow to me.”
“If that were true they would have stormed the castle already.” Alex points out, the Keeper looks at him with a frown.
“You jest at my suffering, knight. You would be spared if they did storm the castle, the people adore you.” Alex shrugs, unsure if what the Keeper is saying is true or not.
“I’ve met people who-”
“I need to cement my power, Alexander. There is only one way I can do that.”
“She is a holy being, Your Grace. The Brothers will never allow it, I will never allow it.”
“You have no choice but to allow it.”
“She is not of our world! I will not allow you marry and use her for your own gains.” Alex steps away from the angered king.
“You would dare-”
“I would dare to stand up for her, and if you dare to challenge me I will meet you in the arena.” For a moment both men regard the other silently.
“Get out.” Alex happily marches out the room, the doors slam behind him and he walks to his room, ignoring the letter from Throne that awaited him and opting instead to rest his eyes for a few hours. The messenger returns to the captive people with the message that Alex will see them in a few hours and while it annoys the bandit he does not say anything about it.